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David Marshall - Art Instructor | Art of the Comic Book | MassArt Fall 2009

Art of the Comic Book

Fall 2009

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Schedule

Week 01: Orientation, Introduction to Supplies, Essential Elements [Back to top]

Class Time

  • Attendance
  • Orientation
  • Demos
    • Tools: Pens, brushes
    • Technique: Straight lines, thumbnails
    • Pencilling: Measure off 10" x 15" live area
  • Orientation
  • Studio
    • Work with this week's Tools: Pens, brushes, freehand and straight lines
    • Life drawing: draw someone in class
    • Start thumbnails for "My Day"
  • Lecture

Homework

  • Email to Instructor
  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • 3 hours practice with ink
  • Straight lines with pen and brush
  • Measure off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board for "My Day"
  • Finish thumbnails for "My Day"

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Week 02: Ames Lettering Guide, Storytelling, Thumbnails, First Assignment [Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • 3 hours practice with ink
  • Straight lines with pen and brush
  • Measured off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board
  • Finished thumbnails for "My Day"

Class Time

  • Attendance
  • Last week's homework
  • Demos
    • Lettering: Ames Lettering Guide
  • Studio
    • Practice lettering
    • Start pencilling for "My Day"
  • Lecture

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • 2-Hour lettering practice
  • Finished pencil art of "My Day"

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Week 03: Lettering 2, Pencilling Basics, Splash Page [Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • 2-Hour lettering practice
  • Finished pencil art of "My Day"

Class Time

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finish bordering and lettering "My Day"

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Week 04: Inking Techniques, 1-Point Perspective [Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished bordering and lettering "My Day"

Class Time

  • Attendance
  • Last week's homework
  • Demos
    • Ink techniques with brush and pen
    • Perspective 1 (1-point perspective)
  • Studio
    • Practice techniques with brush and pen
    • Inking "My Day"
  • Lecture

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finish inking "My Day"
  • Measure off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board for "Zip's Last Day"

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Week 05: Working with Scripts, Character Design, 2-Point Perspective, Research [Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished inking of "My Day"
  • Measured off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board for "Zip's Last Day"

Class Time

Homework

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Week 06: Pencil Techniques, Storytelling, 3-Point Perspective [Back to top]

Due Today

Class Time

Homework

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Week 07: Perspective 4, Lettering Design [Back to top]

Due Today

Class Time

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished lettering for "Zip's Last Day"

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Week 08: Perspective 5, History [Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished lettering for "Zip's Last Day"

Class Time

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished inking for "Zip's Last Day"
  • Measure off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board for "Marvel Method"

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Week 09: Marvel Method - Phase One (Creative Teams, Story Conference)[Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Finished inking for "Zip's Last Day"
  • Measured off 3 blank 10" x 15" pages on bristol board for "Marvel Method"

Class Time

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • "Tighter" pencil art for all 3 pages of "Marvel Method"

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Week 10: Marvel Method - Phase Two (Loose Pencils, Scripting + Lettering)[Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • "Tighter" pencil art for all 3 pages of "Marvel Method"

Class Time

  • Attendance
  • Last week's homework
  • Studio: 30-Minute Copy Session (Marvel Method - Phase 2)
    • Writers get pages from Artists
    • On separate sheet of paper, write dialog, captions and sound effects. Label each element with a CAPITAL LETTER (example: A, B, C, etc.)
    • Directly on the pencil art, draw indications of where the lettering should go, using the CAPITAL LETTER as a guide for the letterer.
    • Return pencilled pages + script to the Artist for lettering.
  • Studio: Lettering + Finished Pencils
    • Letter the pages
    • Tighten the pencils, based on seeing the script in context for the first time
  • Lecture

Homework

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Continue tightening pencils for all 3 pages of "Marvel Method
  • Research visual elements for "Marvel Method, bring resesarch material for class

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Week 11: Marvel Method - Phase Three (Finished Pencils)[Back to top]

Due Today

  • 3 life drawings in sketchbook
  • Continue tightening pencils for all 3 pages of "Marvel Method
  • Research visual elements for "Marvel Method, bring resesarch material for class

Class Time

Homework

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Week 12: No Class Today[Back to top]

Pre-Thanksgiving

Week 13: Marvel Method - Phase Three (Inking Continued)[Back to top]

Due Today

Class Time

Homework

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Week 14: Marvel Method - Phase Three (Finish)[Back to top]

Due Today

Class Time

Homework

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Week 15: Wrapup[Back to top]

Due Today

Class Time

  • Attendance
  • Sign off on all assignments:
    • Three 3-page stories
    • 42 life drawings
  • Studio
    • Catch up on old work
  • Final Grades

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Art of the Comic Book | Syllabus

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Course Description

Fundamentals of sequential art (comic books, newspaper strips, graphic novels). Primary focus is storytelling with ink-on-paper media. Explore narrative techniques to create a variety of moods and rhythms. Exercises build confidence with both the tools and metaphysics of this medium. Work on individual and collaborative projects. Mastery of the technical fundamentals leads to personal expression. While this is primarily a studio class, we also cover history of comics' development, industry-standard production methods and the current business environment.

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Course Outcomes Assessment

When you have completed this course you should be able to do the following things:

  • Gain history of how current devices of comics were created and have developed
  • Understand of how these devices should be used to build solid storytelling skills
  • Use basic media techniques and materials
  • Understand the fundamentals of sequential storytelling
  • Apply anatomy, drafting, perspective, page layout, composition, panel arrangement
  • Tell a variety of stories in a clear and interesting manner
  • Use mastery of technical fundamentals to make personal expressions
  • Work in solo and collaborative projects
  • Develop creative solutions to unanticipated problems
  • Draw on solutions by historical and contemporary artists
  • Objectively critique your work, as well as the work of others
  • Use currrent digital and traditional production techniques
  • Be aware of professional opportunities and presenting your work

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Required Materials

  • Access to Tabloid Scanner
  • Adobe Photoshop or similar (Scan Editing)
  • Microsoft Word or similar (Script Writing)
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro or similar (Making PDFs)

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Recommended Reading

  • Making Comics by Scott McCloud (Harper)
  • Drawing Words & Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel + Matt Madden (First Second Books)
  • The Comics Before 1945 by Brian Walker (Abrams Books)
  • Will Eisner's Shop Talk by Will Eisner (Dark Horse)
  • Writers on Comics Scriptwriting, Vol. 1 by Mark Salisbury (Titan Books)

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Grading Policy

Individual homework assignments are graded in three categories: Technical Mastery, Artistic Merit and Meeting the Deadline. Final grades are compiled from homework assignments, classroom participation and attendance. All final grades will be given at the semester's end; there are no in-completes.

Grading policy for Massachusetts College of Art's 'Art of the Comic Book' as taught by David Marshall
Grade Range Grade Description
  • A
  • A-
  • (93-100)
  • (90-92)
Excellent to Very Good; comprehensive knowledge and understanding of subject matter; marked perception and/or originality
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • (87-89)
  • (83-86)
  • (80-82)
Good; moderately broad knowledge and understanding of subject matter; noticeable perception and/or originality
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • (77-79)
  • (73-76)
  • (70-72)
Satisfactory; reasonable knowledge and understanding of subject matter; some perception and/or originality
  • D
  • (60-69)
Marginal; minimum of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; limited perception and/or originality
  • F
  • (<60)
Failing; unacceptable low level of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; severely limited perception and/or originality; absences in excess of allowable limit

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Late Assignments

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the designated date, unless otherwise noted. Late assignments and make-up work will be accepted up to one week after the due date for half credit. Assignments may not be submitted electronically, except by prior arrangement with the instructor. All writing assignments must be typed.

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Academic Integrity

College guidelines for academic integrity are strictly enforced. Using the words, ideas, or audio/video/graphics files of others, without attributing proper credit to the author, constitutes plagiarism, which will result in failure of the project, and possible failure of the class and expulsion from the college. Students must document the original sources of all material that is not his/her own.

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Attendance

Course work is very hands-on and students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. Poor attendance will affect a student's final grade in a class as follows:

  • Per college-wide policy, students are allowed two absences; three are grounds for dismissal.
  • Students are responsible for making up assignments and communicating with their instructors regarding missing classes.
  • The college does not distinguish between excused or unexcused absences.

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Tardiness

  • If a student arrives late or leaves early from class, it is noted in the attendance roster.
  • Two late arrivals/early departures = one absence
  • Missing more then 30 minutes of class = a one-half absence for that class.

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Other Class Policies

Students must adhere to all lab rules during class. Food and beverages are not permitted in the classroom. Respect for self, instructor, and classmates is required at all times. Students must turn off cell phones, beepers, and portable audio devices during class. You may be asked to leave the class for any of the events listed below. If you are asked to leave, you will not be allowed to return for the duration of the class and you will be marked absent for the entire class. If the problem occurs again during the semester you will be removed from the course and your tuition will not be refunded. You will be asked to leave the class if:

  • You place or answer a phone call during class
  • You use chat/IM or email software during a lecture or an in class assignment
  • You are listening to a personal audio device during class
  • You disrupt the lecture

Because of the studio nature of this class — as well as student's varying levels of experience — this syllabus is subject to change without notice.

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Assignments

Email To Instructor

This is your first assignment, due within 48 hours of our first session:

  • Send from an account you check frequently
  • Send to dsm@illdave.com
  • Subject line:
    Art of the Comic Book - Summer 2009 | YourName
  • Write a paragraph or two about yourself. Some things you can include:
    • Your experience with comic books
    • Your major and career goals
    • Your interests and hobbies
    • Your favorite comic book artists and/or titles
    • Comics you've done or groups you're involved with
    • Anything else about yourself that you want

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My Day

3 Pages of Plot + Art. Write and draw a story of your day (morning, noon, and/or night.) Focus on personal details unique to you.

  • Phase 1: Thumbnail + Research
  • Phase 2: Pencil + Lettering (Ames 3.5)
  • Phase 3: Inking
  • Phase 4: Sign-off

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Folk Tale (Part One of Two): Script

Write a detailed Full Script, in Microsoft Word, for 3 pages of story. Do whatever it takes to make it your own (alternative time periods, personal details, experimental techniques, a "lost ending" approach, etc.) Provide research, setting + character notes.

  • Phase 1: Research
  • Phase 2: First Draft
  • Phase 3: Sign-off

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Folk Tale (Part Two of Two): Art

3 pages from a Full Script. Follow the script as tightly — yet creatively — as possible.

  • Phase 1: Thumbnail + Research
  • Phase 2: Pencilling + Lettering (Ames 3.5)
  • Phase 3: Inking
  • Phase 4: Sign-off

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Zip's Last Day

3 pages from a Full Script. Follow the script as tightly — yet creatively — as possible.

  • Phase 1: Thumbnail + Research
  • Phase 2: Pencil + Lettering (Ames 3.5)
  • Phase 3: Inking
  • Phase 4: Sign-off

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Marvel Method (Part One of Three): Plot

3 pages of Story. Writers and Artists team up to plot a new story. No editorial parameters.

  • Phase 1: Team A Brainstorm
  • Phase 2: Team B Brainstorm
  • Phase 3: Homework - Everyone pencils all three pages loosely

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Marvel Method (Part Two of Three): Pencil

3 pages (Continued).

  • Phase 1: Writers put in copy "Marvel Style"
  • Phase 2: Finish pencilling the story
  • Phase 3: Homework - Finish pencilling all 3 pages

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Marvel Method (Part Three of Three): Ink

3 pages (Continued).

  • Phase 1: Letter (Ames 4.5)
  • Phase 2: Inking
  • Phase 3: Homework - Finish inking all 3 pages

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Media Exercises

Ames Lettering Guide

  • 3.5: Mainstream superhero comics
  • 4.5: Educational, children's work

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Life Drawing

Sketchbook drawings with india ink, brush and pen. Make quick, observational gestural drawings of whatever's in front of you.

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Inking

  • Straight Lines with Ruler, Pen + Brush
  • Feathering with thick-to-thin strokes
  • Textures: Cross-hatching, stipples, dots
  • Line Control with multiple thickness

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Thumbnail Processes

Page Builder

  1. Artist writes and draws directly on the Page
  2. No Script, Layout or concern for Page Count

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Panel Builder

  1. Artist decides what each Panel should look like independently (accounting for Copy and Art), with no regard for Page Design
  2. Artist puts planned Panels on a Thumbnail page (adjusting the Copy placement), deciding Page Design as you go along
  3. Artist applies this Process one page at a time, with no regard for Page Count or Pacing

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Full Script

  1. Writer creates a Full Script, with Page/Panel descriptions, keeping track of Page Count and Pacing
  2. Artist thumbnails entire story, accounting for Copy and Art

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Marvel Method

  1. Writer creates a Plot Synopsis
  2. Artist thumbnails entire story, indicating preferred placement of Copy
  3. Writer adds Copy to the finished Pencil art

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Design Method

  1. Artist or Writer makes a Page Layout
  2. Artist fits the story into this Page Layout, accounting for Copy and Art

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Kurtzman Method

  1. Writer creates Thumbnails with final Copy
  2. Artist follows the Thumbnails

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EC Method

  1. Writer writes a tight Plot
  2. Artist breaks plot down into Pages/Panels
  3. Writer writes Copy
  4. Letterer letters and borders the Pages
  5. Artist draws on the pre-formatted Pages

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Digital Production

Make Raw Scans

To get each page done in one pass, you'll need a tabloid flatbed scanner. Resolution paramaters:

  • 400 ppi
  • 100%
  • Grayscale

Save each page as a TIF with the naming convention of YOURNAME-STORYNAME-PAGENUMBER (example "davidmarshall-zipslastday-01.tif")

Budget approximately 5 minutes to scan each page. For instance, scanning 20 pages took me 90 minutes.

The files will most likely be too large for email. Therefore, a long-term cost-savings tool is a portable USB hard drive. This one, for instance, holds 320 Gigabytes for $110.00.

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Photoshop: Retouch

  1. Make duplicates of raw scans
  2. Scale to 60% at 400 ppi
  3. Trim and rotate
  4. Retouch up with "Image/Adjustments/Levels"
  5. Save each page as YOURNAME-STORYNAME-PAGENUMBER
  6. Print, compare to original. Adjust if necessary.

Photoshop: Format

  1. Copy scaled art, paste into "page-400ppi.psd"
  2. Convert from RGB to Grayscale
  3. Hide all other layers, Flatten image
  4. Save each page as YOURNAME-STORYNAME-PAGENUMBER

MassArt's Tabloid Scanner

Location: Tower T308 | Make/Model: Microtek ScanMaker 9800XL

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Research Methods

As we learned from Alex Toth Critiques Steve Rude, the primary element of storytelling is credibility. Gaining trust from an audience is more important than anatomy, drafting or flashy layouts. Especially in the Google Image area, there's simply no excuse for not knowing what something looks like. While drawing "out of your head" sounds like fun, it's a lazy habit that will hurt you in the long run. Here's a checklist of methods readily available to you and your craft:

  • Newspapers, Books and Magazines
  • Google (Image + Web)
  • Libraries
  • Personal Journals
  • Anecdotes of Family and Friends
  • Take Photographs
  • Interview People

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About Your Instructor

As a student, David Marshall worked on the first MassArt Comic Book. His Senior Degree Project was the historical development of comics art, theory, commerce and technology of American comics in the 20th century. Years later, he taught intro computer arts for the Design department.

Marshall is a working author, having been published by Fantagraphics Books, SpiderBaby Graphix and FantaCo Enterprises. He is also a three-time participant of 24-Hour Comics Day. Please refer to his comic book portfolio for details.

When not doing comics, David runs his one-man creative services company Marshall Art Studio. He has over 20 years of experience in web design + development, print design, illustration and overall content beautification.

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Contact

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Downloads

Production Template

A Photoshop template of a mainstream American standard comic book. It accounts for bleed, trim and 6" x 9" live area.

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History + Techniques

Highlights of the historical, philosophical and technical insights from class, in Powerpoint form.

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Art Supplies

Artist & Craftsman Supply

Offering quality discount art supplies for pros, students, children and crafters since 1985.

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Charrette

Offers addition to traditional design products, as well as a full range of imaging equipment and digital tools.

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Dick Blick Art Materials

Since 1911, artists have turned to Dick Blick Art Materials for dependable savings, a huge selection, and fine customer service on art supplies.

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Pearl Paint

The "World's Largest Discount Art Supplier" for over 70 years.

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Utrecht Art Supplies

Finest name-brand art materials and supplies including artist canvas, oil paint, watercolor supplies, acrylics and more.

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MassArt Supply and Bookstore

The Bookstore offers a complete line of professional art supplies, new and used textbooks, clothing and other college materials. Textbooks can also be ordered online.

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Local Resources

The Boston Comics Roundtable

Founded to unite Boston-area comics creators for workshops, publishing opportunities, professional development and networking.

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Local Retail Stores

Comicazi

Opened in 2000, Comicazi has lots of great products, a great location, and an awesome website. Simply put, we sell cool stuff at cool prices!

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Comicopia

Hosted this year's Boston event. We stock as wide a variety of material as possible, so whether you're into Acme Novelty Library or X-Men (or even both!), we should have something you'd enjoy.

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Hub Comics

A truly knowledgeable comics shop, located in Union Square. Friendly help, late hours, supports local and independent work, lots of stuff but not cramped and great with kids. What's not to love?

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The Million Year Picnic

Nestled in the heart of Harvard Square, this is the oldest comic shop in New England. The staff is knowledgeable, the shelves are packed with all sorts of comic book goodness.

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Comics Technique

Ames Lettering Guide

A first-timer using an Ames Lettering Guide. The online demonstration is short and easy-to-follow.

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Hand Lettering: Todd Klein

The two most important tools you'll need are pens and ink...

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Hand Lettering: Charlton Comics

This magazine from 1973 was an interesting concept. A "how to" manual with good solid advice on how to set out a script and basic advice on lettering and...

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Hand Lettering: Blambot

It's important that today's letterers have at least a working knowledge of hand lettering because it will help you better understand the digital medium...

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John Buscema Draws

John Buscema draws a Captain America figure, from rough pencils to finished ink. Note which lines Mr. Buscema draws quickly and slowly. This demo is followed by a similarly session with Bill Sienkiewicz.

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Ruling Lines (Mechanical Drawing Tips)

A web presentation of Jerome S. Meyer's influential "Mechanical Drawing Self-Taught", published in 1960. Possibly the best drafting tutorial I've ever seen.

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Comic Book Creation Process: Paradigm Shift

How I create each page of Paradigm Shift. The tools include full scripts, 11"x17" vellum, thumbnailed layouts, nibbed dip pens, and a PowerMac G4.

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Comics History

Alex Toth Critiques Steve Rude

A tough-minded analysis of comic book storytelling at its highest levels. Excellent reading for artists, and likely to be of interest to anyone invested in comics.

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The Comic Book Catacombs

Commentary from a life spent within the four color world of imagination.

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The Beat

Publishers Weekly's news blog of comics culture, written by Heidi MacDonald.

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Blambot

An online type foundry of freeware and shareware computer font designer Nate Piekos, specializing in script and display typefaces for use as lettering in both print and online comics.

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Kirby Dots

An artistic convention in superhero and science fiction comic books and similar illustrations: a field of black, roughly circular dots that are used to represent negative space around unspecified kinds of energy.

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Online Resources (Georgia Southern University - Comic Book Writing)

A thorough list of web resources for comic book research. You're encouraged to contribute to this constantly-updated list.

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Lambiek Comiclopedia

An illustrated compendium of over 10,000 comic artists from around the world. Search by artists, books, strips or characters.

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Ingatz Mouse

Possibly the only website dedicated to Ingatz Mouse, character of "Krazy Kat" by George Herriman. There's also a Forum and a very deep Archive section.

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Art 4 Comics

An online retailer of original art. While the site's primary purpose is commercial, it also serves as a resource of viewing rare art at high resolution.

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